Why Collaboration is the Key to Tomorrow’s Connected City

Why Collaboration is the Key to Tomorrow’s Connected City

September 8, 2016
If a smart city pours out petabytes of data but nobody can use the data effectively, will it have made an impact?

After all, “no one owns the city,” as John Rossant, founder and chairman of the New Cities Foundation, reminded attendees at the CTIA Super Mobility conference in Las Vegas.

If 5G is the future of digital networks, leaders from across the wireless industry agree that tighter collaboration between all smart city stakeholders will be a deciding factor in achieving all of its benefits.

“Part of the key is learning how to work together,” to build truly connected cities, Rossant said. “When you look at cities and the complexity of a city, it lends itself to collaboration. Competitors are going to have to learn to work together. It means new ways of doing things, new business models, new ways of collaborating with the public sector.”

Done correctly, said John Stratton, EVP and president of operations for Verizon, “the networks we are designing and building today are going to be the catalysts and drivers of the connected city of the future.”

A modern metropolis’ digital architecture is owned by a variety of stakeholders, pointed out Hugh Martin, CEO of Sensity Systems. The police department and the transportation authorities historically have made independent technology decisions. Yet making a smart city mesh together means “they all have to come together and say ‘kumbaya, we’re going to become a smart city,’” Martin said. “The reality is that doesn’t happen.”

Getting everyone to that collaborative reality means overcoming doubts about the true need for a more deeply connected world, said Nokia CEO Rajeev Suri.

5G and other next-generation technologies are “not technology for the sake of technology but technology in the service of people everywhere,” Suri said. “5G gives back more time to more people, allowing them to be more productive and live more fulfilling lives.”

And a partial solution is really no solution at all, Suri added.

“To achieve the radical benefits that we see possible in the future, we need the connectivity, the capacity, and the latency that will only be possible with 5G,” he said.

Anything less than excellence on all three points doesn’t “get us where we need to be.”

Practically, Martin recommends that industry players offer a platform or a framework of services relating to transit or public safety, for example, that cut across city departments and make a unified approach easier.

Providing analytical insight to all the data produced by the Internet of Things will also be crucial, said billionaire investor Mark Cuban, adding he was particularly interested in deep learning and neural networks’ ability to analyze massive data sets.

Getting all of that right is a tall task — but one the wireless industry is primed to conquer.

“There is a multi-billion dollar opportunity that is facing our industry… And yet, the very diversity of the solutions, the almost dizzying array of opportunity, has a risk of paralyzing our industry, putting us in a position where we may struggle to move forward and truly scale these solutions at a massive level,” Stratton said. “And this is, I think, something the wireless industry is uniquely positioned to solve.”
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